Sunday, December 30, 2012

Canary Island Song: A Review


When Carolyn decides to take a trip the Canary Islands to visit her mom, she never thought she would run into Bryan Spencer, the man she fell for twenty-five years before during a summer visit. As circumstances throw them together, Carolyn begins to feel again, for the first time since her husband's death seven years before. With the Canary Island song bringing her healing, will it also bring her a second chance with Bryan?

I think I say it every time I read a Robin Jones Gunn book, but she is the master of weaving spiritual truths into character development. Carolyn blossoms like a slow summer night in this beautiful story of living again after devastating loss. Fans of RJG will enjoy reading about Todd's dad, seeing him as a man and not just Todd's dad. 

As she did in the Sisterchick series, RJG makes the island come alive in a way that makes it another character with its song, dance, and breath of life.

I enjoyed this book. Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this leisurely escape. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Air we Breathe: A Review


Ever since watching her father die and being held captive by his killers, Hanna refuses to talk....until the day she meets Claire Rodriguez at a park and sees her own pain mirrored in Claire's eyes. With Claire's help, Hanna begins to make progress until her mother whisked her away to a remote little town in Maine, changing her name to Molly. Still unable to shake her fears, seventeen year old Molly now talks but refuses to leave the wax museum where she and her mom work and live. When a chance encounter brings Claire back into her life, will both of them find the healing they need?

This book is one of the best I've read in months. The characters are amazingly well-developed with layers of pain and healing that slowly unfolds throughout the flashbacks and current events. Parrish does an incredible job drawing the reader into Hanna's world of fear and capturing Claire's stifling grief. 

I could go on and on about how good this book is and still not really cover all the aspects of what makes this book stand out from the others. It's a must-read for fans of Christian Fiction. This is the first book I've read by Parrish, but I am ordering her other books today. 

I was given this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Unending Devotion: A Review


Lily Young is determined to save her sister Daisy, who ran away and is now stuck as a prostitute in a Michigan logging camp. There she meets Connell McCormick, a man who runs a lumber company his father started, who wants to help but the small community is terrified of Carr, the man who runs the saloon where Daisy works. Because the logging camp doesn't have a sheriff, it's up to Lily to save her sister even if it means giving up Connell or even her own life.

Lily is a fun character. In 1883, women had few rights, but I imagine there were a lot of women like her: strong, spunky, and full of spitfire. She makes the story stand out with her headstrong determination that often gets her in trouble. Connell is a great balance with his careful calculations, and I loved them both. 

The pace is quick with Lily finding herself in one near death experience to another, from being stuck in a cabin while wolves stood outside to being forced to "work" at the brothel. 

Fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this book. 

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Deadline: A Review


When journalist Jake Woods loses his two best friends in a car accident, he works to uncover the truth about what happened the night and finds it was no accident. What he finds goes beyond a simple murder into a all-out war against Christian beliefs through mainstream media and the price that is put on a human life. Will  Jake be able to solve the mystery before the final deadline?

This book had a lot of potential. The characters are well-developed and likable. The action is intense at the end. However, it is simply too long and too preachy. I am a conservative Christian, but I found many parts to be persuasive arguments more than fiction, which is great if I'm reading a blog but annoying if I'm reading fiction. Because Jake is a writer, his character is expected to think about things a little more than the average male character, but his thoughts went on and on to  the point of exhaustion. Fewer ramblings and more action would have made this book a much more enjoyable read.

However, one aspect of this book saved it for me. The journey to heaven. I loved Finney, and while I have grown up in church and have heard about heaven all my life, I feel I have a new perspective on it after reading this book. The parts of the book set in heaven were thought-provoking and inspiring. 

Overall, fans of Christian fiction who want a little more food for thought than adventure will enjoy this book. I am interested to check out the other books in the series, but I'll probably check to see how long they are first. 

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Please take a minute to rate my review. Thanks!



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Trouble with Cowboys: A Review



Annie Wilkerson loves horses, but to make ends meet, she has to write an advice column about love, something she knows nothing about. When town flirt Dylan Taylor needs help with his horse, she barters with him: if he'll help her with her column, she'll return the favor with his horse. As they get to know each other, Annie finds herself falling for him even though she vowed never to love a cowboy after she saw them break her mom's heart.

I have read several books by Denise Hunter and even others in this series and enjoyed them, so I was very surprised when it took me a long time to read this book because I just couldn't get into it and found it pretty boring.

The trouble with this book is that there isn't enough conflict to keep me interested. I understood why Annie didn't want to date Dylan at first, but most of the book was the same thing. Liking him. Thinking he was flirting with someone else. This was repeated a few times with little action in between. Secondly, I wasn't a big Annie fan. I found her annoying, and since I'm a character-driven reader, I found it hard to finish the book.

Fans of Christian fiction may enjoy this one, but I would suggest her other books over this one.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.




My Revised Christmas List: A Review


Chloe is just trying to finish nursing school and work enough hours to pay her rent since her roommate bailed on her. When she sets up her sister on a blind date, she finds herself falling for someone who wasn't at all what she was expecting but exactly what she needs.

Erynn Mangum is one of my favorite Christian Chick Lit authors. I love her voice and her fast dialogue makes for a fun read. This short novella is no exception. Although it was pretty clear how it would turn out, the characters are great, and the witty back-and-forth between Chloe and just about everyone she talks to makes this a great afternoon read. 

Chloe's story, although over way too quickly, will tide Mangum's fans over until her next series comes out. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Father Daughter Devotions



I read once that the way a woman views God has a lot to do with how she views her own father. We also hear that women marry men like their dads. A father is so important on a girl's journey to becoming a healthy woman. 

As a public-school educator, I see firsthand the fruit of a good relationship with a father and the heartbreak that comes when the father is not present or not involved. Yet, many men don't seem to know what to talk about with their tween daughters, who are entering that age where everything becomes complicated and full of drama.

This year-long devotional gives fathers specific things to do with their daughters and conversation starters. I don't know if every single day would be applicable to most families, but there are myriad ideas for a dad wanting to stay connected with his daughter. Men could pull the ideas that work for them, perhaps shooting for once or twice a week of uninterrupted time although each day is short enough that finding time to complete the devotional is a doable goal. 

I recommend this book to any guy looking to get to know his daughter as she moves from being a girl to a young woman. While reading the book, I kept wishing my dad had read something like this, but I am passing it along to my brother-in-law, who works hard to spend quality time with his girl. 

I was given this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sarah Dessen



The story I've been working on for NaNoWriMo is a YA. One of my favorite authors, Ally Carter, often tells new writers to read books in their genre for the writing instead of for enjoyment.

Since my work in progress is about a senior in high school finding herself (and God), I decided to read (or re-read) all of Sarah Dessen's books since she is the queen of Coming of Age books in my opinion.

I planned to look at pacing and external conflict since those are two areas in which I struggle. But dang it, I get sucked into the story every time, even the ones I had already read. The way she develops a character is absolutely amazing. While not every book has been added to my list of all-time favorite books, every single one is great. Every one. I still have a few to go, but I'm sure they'll be just as good.

Do you have a writer that makes you forget everything but the characters in that book?


**Isn't it cool how well-read this book appears to be. Thanks to all the high school librarians in my district sending me their copies. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Against the Tide: A Review


Lydia has always been alone. Orphaned as a young girl, she worked hard to make a quiet life for herself as a translator for the U.S. Navy. When Alexander Banebridge requests her help translating documents in his efforts to stop the opium trade that he once helped run, she finds her organized life suddenly thrown into a tailspin as she goes undercover to help Bane stop the man responsible for most of the opium trade on the East Coast.

Although they fell in love a little suddenly, I loved the characters in this book. They were flawed yet resilient, overcoming difficult childhoods to becoming strong adults. 
The opium trade plot was fascinating to me. I could see parallels between orphanages and doctors who gave opium to children to calm them down and today's rush to take medicine for everything. I thought Camden did an excellent job with the ease of addiction and the torture of withdrawal. It seemed real and well-researched. 

Overall, I loved this book. Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this book. It's got history, adventure, and love. 

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo


I did it!! I wrote over 50,000 words in one month! 

I often think of great ideas in my head, but I don't have the discipline to sit down and write them out. I had been writing a story, but after realizing the plot needed to be reworked in a major way, I became more frustrated the longer I worked on it. 

Since NaNoWriMo was starting, I decided to sit down and write a story that had been on my mind a while. I just wrote without thinking of the "format" in which the story needed to be told like I had been. Having (Wanting) to enter my word count each day was a huge motivator. Next year, I hope to interact more with other writers and perhaps meet some writing buddies.

Of course, a novel is longer than 50,000 words, so I'm still plugging away. I still have a few more events to write in the story, and my goal is between 70-75,000 words. 

How about you? Are you writing anything? I would love to meet some people who are in the same boat as me: just starting out. 



Monday, November 26, 2012

Your Heart's Desire: Forgiving and Forgetting


I'm not married, so read this article more from the point of forgving ex-boyfriend's and not holding their mistakes against the next guy.

Fighting to Forgive and Forget the Former Things
By Sheri Rose Shepherd 
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
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How do we forget the former things? Is there some magic prayer that wipes out our memories so we won’t feel the pain of our past? I wish I could say that this is the way to find a new foundation for your life. Yet God teaches us through Isaiah 43 that our past does not determine our future. He wants us to embrace the new beginning He offers us and to stop living in yesterday. However, to let go of our past, we will have to leave it where it belongs . . . at the Cross.

I was powerfully reminded of this again through Alice, whom I met recently at a retreat. I had been talking about rebuilding relationships, and when I finished, I walked over to the door to say good-bye to each of the ladies. I loved hearing how God spoke to them throughout the weekend, and Alice gave me renewed hope. She was seventy years old and had been married over fifty years.

I was captivated by the joy that lit up her face. She radiated from the inside out, and her smile made me feel at home. I thought Alice must have lived a wonderful life to glow with God's glory the way she did. I had to ask her what her secret was. Her response reflected a woman who was beautifully broken.

She said, "When I lost the husband I loved to my best friend, I lost everything that was dear to me, including my children. However, I discovered how much my Lord truly loves me because of that loss, and I have never been the same because of His love."

My eyes welled with tears as she shared with me the story of how her husband had served her divorce papers on their fortieth wedding anniversary. Devastated and overwhelmed by grief, she set the papers aside without signing them. She fought to understand why God did not protect her marriage after all she had sacrificed to remain faithful, even in the hard and unhappy years.

Despite their challenges, she said she loved this man and never dreamed she would be alone in her older years. Though they lived apart for seven years, something inside her soul continued to keep her from signing those divorce papers. Late one night, though, she finally decided to move on and let go of the man she loved. With sad resolve, she signed the papers. Once she had done so, she felt free for the first time in many years.

Until the doorbell rang. It was 2 a.m., and she was a little fearful of who might be at her door in the middle of the night. When she opened the door, she was shocked to see her husband, Bill, on his knees with tears in his eyes and torn-up divorce papers in his hand.

He looked into her eyes and asked her for something he did not deserve: “a chance to finish my life with you.” Bill told her he had just awakened from a dream he believed God had given him, showing how his actions were crumbling the foundation of the faith of his children and grandchildren―all for the sake of his own pleasure. When he woke up, he could not wait until morning. He had to run to his wife.

He knew he owed her a sincere apology, but he wanted so much more. He wanted a second chance, and he was willing to do whatever it took to rebuild what he had broken in her heart. She stood there silently until she heard the Lord whisper to her, "Today, Alice, is the day I am giving you a choice between life and death for your family. I am asking you to trust Me with this broken man and choose life, so that your legacy of faith can live on in your children through your obedience to Me."

She asked for a few days to pray; Bill told her to take whatever time she needed to decide.

Alice said she fought through the biggest internal battle she had ever experienced as she reflected on the past seven years away from this man. After all, she had finally healed from his betrayal and feared she might reopen the wound that had taken so long to heal. She wrestled through every emotion—from feeling ripped off, being rejected, and now receiving an offer to be rescued.

Alice knew her choice would write the rest of her life story and her husband’s story. After many tears and much prayer for the strength to forgive her husband, Alice surrendered to God's will and gave up her rights to take revenge. God blessed the hard choice Alice had made to forget the former things and finish her life with her husband in spite of all he had done. And they finished strong!

Yes, Bill was wrong, and yes, he was unfaithful and caused much damage to many lives, including his own. There is no excuse for his actions, and Alice had every right to make him suffer for what he had done. However, her extremely hard decision to forget the former things will leave a legacy of love that will live on long after they are gone. 

For more teaching videos from Sheri Rose, go to www.biblelifecoaching.com.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Til Grits Do Us Part: A Review


In the second book in this series, Shiloh was happily in love with a country boy and the small podunk town in which she was stuck. Because the second book's ending showed our heroine happy, I wondered where the third book would take the hapless girl who found herself in embarrassing situations nearly every chapter. What I found was a pleasant surprise. While planning her wedding on a shoestring budget and trying to learn more about her mom, Shiloh becomes the victim of a confused stalker, who thinks he is destined to marry her. With her life in danger, she connects the guy chasing her to an old unsolved crime she's investigating for the newspaper. Will she finally get her wedding, or will the stalker ruin her big day? And, will we readers ever find out what her middle name is?

I loved all the elements that carried over from the first two books: the mixture of the Japanese culture and the Southern small town ways, Shiloh's adventures, and the slew of characters that make the book come alive. Because the mystery took center stage, some of the characters were left behind some, and for the first half, Shiloh's finance Adam felt like a minor character instead of the hero. Thankfully, that was fixed by the end where he will make readers swoon with his gentlemanly love for Shiloh.

The mystery was fast-paced and well-written. It contained enough twists and turns to keep me guessing, and the whole series demonstrates the author's talent to write both character-driven and suspense-driven plots.

However, I do recommend reading the series in order.
I was given this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Friday, November 23, 2012

When a Heart Stops: A Review


This is the second book in the Deadly Reunion series, and it picks up right where the first one left off, continuing the mystery of where Jillian has been hiding and who is trying to find her while adding a chase to find a serial killer who seems to be after Serena, Jillian's friend and the town's medical examiner. With her childhood crush back in the picture, they must work together to keep Jillian's secret and their lives.

This book has an even faster pace than the first book in the series, and although I had a clue who the killer was, I was still surprised  by a few twists at the end. I love Serena's strength and compassion, especially towards the teenage girl who tries to escape a bad home environment  Dominic is the typical overprotective hero, but the childhood connection makes their relationship a little sweeter than the typical romance in a suspenseful thriller. 

What I really liked was the continued story of Jillian and how that mystery involved the current murder investigation. I think it's a clever way to tie the books together into a series instead of just having the characters in each book connected as friends. 

Fans of suspense who have time to sit and read the book in one sitting (because you won't want to put it down) will love the latest by Lynette Eason. Be sure to read the first book first, or you'll have a lot of questions, especially as the characters from book one are mentioned with little explanation of who they are.

Your Heart's Desire: Receiving God's Love



This article stood out to me. Receiving God's unconditional love is sometimes hard, especially since we don't forget our sin the way He does. I love the practical ideas in the article.
Receiving God's Love
By Sheri Rose Shepherd 
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
learn more ▶
Think how powerful it would be if we spoke the truth about how God feels about us at least as often as we silently said negative things about ourselves or replayed in our minds all the hurtful things that have been said about us. The truth is, we are not what others say about us, and if the men we love speak hurtful words to us that make us feel unworthy, we don’t need to repeat them any longer. Instead we can learn to rest in God's unchanging love for us.

Even if no one has ever said anything kind to you, your Prince Jesus longs for you to breathe in the tender love, compassion, and kindness He feels for you. If you're ready to have Jesus, the lover of your soul, become reality to you, I invite you to do the following . . .

Breathe In His Love . . .

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)

You know that feeling of exhilaration that sticks with you after you've spent time with a guy you know you're falling in love with? As you part, you take a deep breath and feel waves of delight washing over you. Or you know the joy that wells up inside when your man unexpectedly says something so sweet that you feel treasured? You replay those words over and over in your mind because doing so gives you a lift.

Breathe His truth in; allow the words of your true prince Jesus to echo in your heart and soul.

After you consider God's words to you—"I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3)—whisper toward heaven, "I love You, Lord."

Sing about His Love . . .

Each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:8)

When I was learning to let myself receive God's love, I would actually sing love songs to Him. Though they had been written for a woman to sing to a man here on earth, I began to understand that if I would crave God's love first, He would meet my needs. Only then would I be able to give and receive love.

Today I love worship songs that sing of God's love for us. I blare them throughout my house in the mornings so Satan will not be able to whisper lies to me any longer. Consider doing the same.

Write Love Letters to Him in a Journal . . . 

Connect your heart to heaven by writing love letters to your Lord. It is amazing what happens to your heart as you begin to express your love in writing to the only One who will never walk away from or reject you. Hang on to this treasure of truth: how you feel about yourself will never change God's love for you.

Let Us Pray . . .

Dear God,
I confess I do not feel worthy of your love. It is hard for me to believe that You even love me. Help me, Lord, to look to You for my worth. Forgive me for not allowing myself to receive Your love. Forgive me for looking to others to make me feel like I have value when You are the only one who can validate me and love me the way I long to be loved. From this day forward, I choose to let You love me so I can love others. In Jesus' name. Amen.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD. (Psalm 104:33-34)


For more teaching from the Your Heart's Desire book and Bible study, visitwww.biblelifecoaching.com.

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Girl in the Glass: A Review


In one of the best books I've read in a long time, Susan Meissner shares the story of Meg, a girl who has dreamed of visiting Florence since she first saw the painting in her grandmother's house. Working for a book publisher, Meg is connected with Sophia, an older woman who believes she is part of the Medici families. Sophia is writing the stories of Florence and of Nora, the Medici princess who now speaks to Sophia through the sculptures and art of the city. As their stories begin to intersect, each woman must find herself what a renaissance truly is.

Although slow-moving, this book is amazing. The characters are beautifully written and come alive as they face the harsh reality they have avoided by living fantasy. I loved the way their stories were interwoven through Nora's journals (perhaps, that wasn't clear to me), Sophia's novel, and Meg's narrative. Though all came to age at different times and different places, their journeys all mirrored one another's.

What stood out most was the part art played in the story. The history, the stories, the culture they contain helped mold the story, and although I've never had a desire to visit Florence, I do now.

Fans of Meissner will enjoy this beautiful story of three women's journey to find the girl in the glass.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

If you have a minute, please rank my review, which helps me get a wider range of books from which to choose.

Your Heart's Desire: Unworthy of Love

 
 
Feeling Unworthy of Love
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19)
By Sheri Rose Shepherd 
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
learn more ▶
There is a battle within most women's hearts to believe they are worthy of love. If we believe the lie that we do not deserve love and are hiding behind feelings of unworthiness, even the most loving man in the world will not be able to break down the wall around our hearts.

Can you imagine if every night when you went to tuck your children into bed they refused to let you hug them or express your love because they did not feel they deserved it? As a parent, you would embrace them every time you could to prove to them they were indeed worthy of your love. If they refused to receive it because of how they felt, it would break your heart.

I believe that is how our heavenly Father feels when we refuse to let Him love us. But there's so much more at stake when we feel unworthy of love. When we are locked up inside, we cannot become the women we want to be in our men's and children's lives. If we do not love ourselves and do not let God lavish His love on us, it will hinder us and hurt others.

There are many reasons we may fight feelings of unworthiness. Some of us had fathers who never expressed how much they loved us, and others had mothers who did not feel they deserved love and did not know how to show love, so we began to see our worth through their eyes and not through God's. We may have been abused verbally, emotionally, or physically. Maybe our first love made us feel we were worthless. Some of us had all the love in the world from our families, but we felt rejected by our peers.

The list of things we women believe when it comes to love is endless. But the truth is, how we feel will never change how loved we are by the Lord. And nothing that we have done or that has been done to us can keep God from loving us. The question is, will we open our hearts and let His love in? I believe if God wrote us a love letter, it might read like this . . .

My Beloved Daughter,
I love you with an unconditional, everlasting love so you can be free to love. My precious daughter, don't allow those who have hurt you to keep you from experiencing the joy of loving others. I know giving a piece of your heart away involves risk, but I am here to heal your heart when someone hurts you. I want you to choose wisely whom you allow in your heart, and I also want you to give those you love the freedom to fail. Remember that no one else can love you as perfectly and completely as I do. Don't look for a perfect love in people, or you will always find disappointment and heartache. If you allow your soul to settle into Mine and become one with Me, you will never doubt that I am forever and always devoted to you.
Your Prince Jesus, who can't stop loving you

May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. (Ephesians 3:18) 

For more teaching from the Your Heart's Desire book and Bible study, visitwww.biblelifecoaching.com.

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Your Heart's Desire: You Don't Need a Man

Thankfully, I have never felt pressure from my family (except Grammy) to "find" a husband. My family has always had the mindset that it's better to be single than married to the wrong person.
You Don't Need a Man to Push the "Play Button"
for Your Life to Begin! 

An Article for Singles
By Sheri Rose Shepherd 
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
learn more ▶
I have been married twenty-five years, and my husband and I joke that it has been seven of the best years of our lives. Why is it that we spend so much time searching for someone to share life with, and so many times the dream of wanting and wondering becomes better than the reality of the man or the marriage?

I believe when a man walks down the aisle and says "I do," his every hope and intention is that his marriage will be for life. He sincerely desires to understand and take care of the beloved bride he has chosen. He romanced her and worked hard to express his love so she would want to spend the rest of her life with him. He was determined to be her hero and lovingly lead her safely through life. The challenge for a man begins after he makes his wedding vows because, generally, no one has taught him how to accomplish his God-appointed position in a woman's life.

Eventually, a man's attempts at love, leadership, and even heroism may miss their mark, and his beloved bride gradually withdraws emotionally from the very one she hoped would give her happily ever after. Sadly, she often closes up her spirit in order to protect her heart from any more hurt.

The man she longs for ends up feeling frustrated and angry, and he may give up trying. Their love story, which once fostered hopes of intimacy, happiness, and growing old together, withers into isolation, pain, and despair or divorce. I don't believe our desire to find a good man is wrong, and we do have every reason to be cautious. Even in the church it seems that just about every day we hear about another man of faith who has fallen away from his wife, his family, and his moral convictions. Single women tell me about the heartache they experience after years of dating men who seem unwilling to commit.

If you are single, I would love to share with you a "love checklist" to help you avoid pouring your heart into the wrong relationship. I have discovered it is better to be single and satisfied than heartbroken in the wrong relationship. If you are willing to open your heart to some motherly wisdom, please read on . . .

The Love List . . .
  1. Look at the way a man loves his mother because it is the way he will eventually love his wife.
  2. Pay attention to the way he reacts when there is stress or conflict.
  3. Meet his friends and keep in mind that the people he hangs with are a reflection of his heart.
  4. Pay attention to what your good friends see in him, because often those who love you can see better than you can see when you're falling in love.
  5. Look at what he reads and what he watches on television, because they will be a reflection of his moral fiber.
  6. Do your best not to be too physical, because it will cloud your vision and confuse your heart.
  7. It is imperative that a man respect your boundaries without challenging them.
  8. Ask him to pray for you often, because you will need a man who knows how to cover you in prayer.
  9. Ask yourself whether you feel at home when you’re with him or whether you act like someone you're not to get him to like you.
  10. Before you say "I do," go through premarital counseling with a pastor.
Let's pray for your future husband. . . .
Dear Lord,
I pray for my future husband, wherever he is in the world right now. Prepare me to become the kind of bride he will need when we come together. Until You make me ready for him, let the only intimate relationship I seek be with You. Blind my eyes from wanting any other man than the one You have for me. Remove all men in my life who may keep me from recognizing him. Give me wisdom to seek what is pure and right in Your sight while I wait for him. Put such a deep passion in my heart for my purpose that I won't be distracted or discouraged from pursuing all that You have for me. Deliver me from the traps of the enemy, and train me now to resist temptation. Keep me from falling into a counterfeit relationship, and give me the strength not to settle for second best. Give me the stamina to run this "singles" race until I cross the finish line and receive his heart—and Your blessing—as the prize. Amen. 

For more teaching from the Your Heart's Desire book and Bible study, visitwww.biblelifecoaching.com.

Your Heart's Desire

 
Your Heart's Desire is designed to minister to women in all stages of relationships: single, married, separated, or divorced. I don't usually read books like this, but I was intrigued by the premise of a book for every woman who has ever loved a man. Over the next few weeks, I will post several articles that touched my heart or encouraged me in my walk with Jesus. Here's the introduction:
 
Desiring a "Happily Ever After"
Fighting the Temptation to Give Up on Love and Marriage
By Sheri Rose Shepherd 
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach
I don't know where you stand today with the man you love or loved—or if you are single, divorced, separated, or widowed. I can tell you, though, that if you've been hurt, you can be sure Your heavenly Father knows how hard it is to love and forgive the one who caused you pain. Yet regardless of the relational devastation you face, no one can keep you from finishing strong for God's glory!

I was raised in a non-Christian home. My parents have each been married and divorced to three different people. As part of several blended families, all I understood about marriage when I was growing up was "unhappily ever after." But then I became a Christian at twenty-four and married my husband, Steve, just a few years later. Because of my love for God and my husband, I honestly didn't think anything could shake my own marriage or faith.

In the summer of 2007, however, my happily ever after was wiped out and my faith was tested. The family foundation I had worked so hard to build and protect was almost destroyed, along with my ministry, in that season of my life. I truly believed that God had forsaken me.

I had just finished writing my book for mothers about raising sons to become godly husbands. As I excitedly ran upstairs to e-mail the manuscript to the publisher, I suddenly felt as if something dark hovered over me. My passion for the book's message was drowned out by the fear of an attack from the enemy that could come against me and my family if I stepped on his territory . . . young men and their future marriages.

I called the publisher and said I'd need to wait and pray for courage before submitting the manuscript. I went to my son, Jake, who was eighteen years old and a senior in high school at the time, and asked him if he had any plans of rebelling against his faith once he graduated from high school. I told him I was willing to give him freedom to find his own faith in Christ, but I didn't want to put out a book about raising boys if my own son was going to walk away from the Lord. He reassured me that he was strong in his faith and that he felt I should publish the book. I decided to take the chance to make a difference and sent in the manuscript.

The book began climbing the charts, and everything seemed to be going well. I even began speaking with my son at conferences for mothers of boys. Then three months into my book tour, my fear of attack hit. My husband had taken a job that we had both prayed for. This job appeared to be a blessing; however, his new position required him to violate some of the boundaries we had put in place to protect our marriage, and we ended up separated.

There I was in the public eye of ministry, fighting to save future marriages, and somehow my own marriage was falling apart. My son was devastated by the division between me and his dad. It was too hard for him to deal with all his confusion, pain, and anger, so he took a break from his faith and began using drugs and alcohol to comfort himself. I had always known to run to God for cover when there was a great attack, but now I felt like He had left me alone on the battlefield to fight for myself. It appeared that all I had believed about God and all my effort to build a strong foundation for my own family had been shattered. My pain, my shame, and my life were an embarrassment. I felt as if I were battling an out-of-control fire that would burn up everything I loved and lived for. Every night I would cry myself to sleep as I struggled to understand why God had not protected me while I was attempting to accomplish something for His glory. 

One night I could not take it anymore, so I fell to my knees and told God I either wanted Him to fix my family or I wanted to quit the ministry. Then I felt the Lord asking me a bigger question: Was My life, given on a cross for you, not enough for you to finish strong even if it means surrendering the life you wanted? For the first time I realized that my heart's true desire was to feel loved and secure, and yet no man on earth could love me the way my Lord does. In that moment of crisis I found the true meaning of following Christ. God had not forsaken me, but He did want to free me from depending on others to give me my happily ever after.

That night I gave my heart's deepest desire to God and chose to follow Him at any cost. In exchange, He gave me something so much better; He gave me peace that was more powerful than my circumstances. My faith was no longer in people; it was in Christ alone. Although nothing outwardly had changed yet, I had been changed. Today, Steve and I have celebrated twenty-five years of marriage, and our son serves God with His whole heart. He and his bride have given us our first grandbaby girl. However, to be honest, restoring our marriage was excruciatingly painful and more difficult than either of us expected. As hard as this trial was, it taught me a valuable lesson: our Lord is the God of comfort and the author of a new beginning. He can and will rebuild a beautiful life out of any broken heart willing to make a change. He will use one sacrificial choice; one act of forgiveness; one sincere, repentant heart; and one woman who is willing to step out in faith and start rebuilding with His love for His glory.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

For more teaching from the Your Heart's Desire book and Bible study, visitwww.biblelifecoaching.com.
 

Finally: A Review


For the last few years, whenever Rory would ask for something like a cell phone, to go to a girl-boy party, or to get a pet, her parents' response would always be the same. When you're 12. Now that she's a few days from her birthday, Rory has a list of things she can finally do. Will being 12 be all she expects it to be?

This book is one of the many reasons I point my 4th and 5th grade library students to Wendy Mass's books when they don't know what to read. The character is realistic, the parents are typical, the experiences are funny, and there's a hint of unexpected magic.

Preteen girls will identify with Rory, who dreams of finally doing all the things her parents won't let her do. However, when she gets to do them, unfortunate events happen. She maims her legs the first time she tries to shave, she discovers she's allergic to gold when she goes to get her ears pierced, and her parents want her to get a cell phone with two buttons.

Rory's parents are fantastic. Many books and even TV shows portray the parents as clueless or uninvolved. Rory's parents are more realistic in their overprotectiveness and love for their girl.

A final, somewhat magical twist in the end (think 11 Birthdays), shows Rory what really counts about being 12.

This is a great book for a mom and daughter to read and to discuss together. Both will enjoy it and walk away either remembering being 12 or looking forward to turning 12.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Third Wheel: A Review



As a school librarian, I love the Diary of a Wimpy kid series. They are funny, and the kids want to read them over and over, which is awesome. I was eager to read the newest edition, especially since I knew it would be about a school dance. I know Greg is in middle school, but fans of the books are as young as first grade. I wanted to see how the topic was handled, but I should have known the dance would be more about Greg's mishaps than romance.

Although it's not the best book in the series, I still enjoyed the latest Greg drama--getting locked in the laundry room while babysitting, having his mom come to school to make him take off his jacket, and even Greg getting kicked out of kindergarten. And that's all before the senior citizens crash the dance. Each situation is humorously written, and fans will enjoy getting to know a little bit of Greg's past while seeing him worm his way out of his current predicament.

I've read some reviews that mention the topics jump around, and while I thought the beginning of the book that compared Greg's childhood to Manny's was a little long, I thought Kinney tied the ending back to the beginning, which was a nice touch and great conclusion to the story.
Fans of the story, both young and old, will enjoy this latest book.

Monday, November 5, 2012

House of Mercy: A Review




Believing she has a gift of healing, Beth wants to become a vet and take care of the animals on her family’s farm. One mistake leaves her family on the brink of bankruptcy, her mother turning against her, and a mysterious wolf that keeps appearing after attacking her, a wolf that leads her to the only one who can save her family—the grandfather she’s never met.

I love the theme of mercy and its power. I also like the character of Beth. The twists and turns are exciting. Yet, there was something missing. Beth’s mother seemed unrealistic and while the author pushed the idea of Jacob, he never stood out as a hero. Instead, I wish Trey’s character had been developed more.
Parts of the story jumped around, and I felt there were a lot of loose ends at the end that seemed to try to throw all the parts together, hoping they would stick together.

Despite its shortcomings, House of Mercy is a thought-provoking read, analyzing God’s response to prayer.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Book Club Needs Help!


An example of one of our Book Club Projects

When I worked in a low-income school, we received state and federal money for our school. In fact, my first year as a librarian, I received over 8,000 dollars from the district to buy books. Now that I am not at a low-income school, I have to fundraise for every dollar my library gets.

That's where Donorschoose.org comes in. They help teachers raise money for things for their classroom through corporate donors as well as people who give to help students.

I am asking for books for my kids to have Book Club. We did one book club at the beginning of the year, and the kids LOVED it! However, I spent a lot of my own  money buying materials. I created a donorschoose account and am asking you to help me get two more sets of book club books.

Here's the great part: Build-A-Bear has already put in half of what I need. Also, if you give and type in the match-word INSPIRE, your donation will be matched by a corporate sponsor!
Second, these books can be used with multiple grades for multiple years. I chose popular titles so the kids would be interested in reading the books for years to come.

Any amount is appreciated.

Here's the link:
http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=910034&sharebar=true&utm_source=dc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=proposal_approve

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tidewater Inn: A Review

Growing up, Libby believed her father had died when she was five. A restorer of historical buildings, Libby and her best friend Nicole go to check out the inn her father, who died recently, left her much to the surprise of her new found brother and sister. While there, Nicole is kidnapped while Libby watches online helpless. Libby becomes the prime suspect in her friend's disappearance.

Colleen Coble is a master of writing romantic suspense novels that focus on character development . While this book was good, it's not memorable. I liked the characters, but they don't stand out. My favorite character was Alec, Libby's love interest who has taken in his nephew. He is strong and resilient, two traits every book's hero should have.

While the premise of the book holds promise, much of the plot was the same thing over and over. Looking for Nicole. Arguing with her brother and sister. I think the plot would have benefited from one or two more things happening because the plot is interesting and has some twists and turns that caught me by surprised. I just was kinda bored between twists.

Although it's definitely not Coble's best, it's a nice rainy day read. Fans of Christian suspense will enjoy this book.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Death of a Kleptomaniac


This is one of the most intriguing books I've read in a long time, and I'm not sure how to describe it other than this: it's a coming of age story that takes place after death. Molly is a popular girl who struggles with the "typical" teenage drama: boys, friends, and the urge to steal. When she dies in a freak accident, Molly has to confront what caused her to steal and somehow provide comfort to her family before she can fully cross over.

Molly is an interesting character. I've never read anything by Kristen Tracy, but I love how she wrote the characters. Each one is well-developed and somehow can't be put into a box in terms of describing them. The only thing that detracted from Molly being fully developed was I didn't ever really understand why she took things. Not understanding her motive annoyed me while reading.

I found Tracy's description of a soul's emotions after death. Molly has to go through the stages of grief along with her parents, and despite a few loose threads (what decisions did Molly make in life that would give her a chance to her last words?), the plot runs quickly and makes this a book a quick but thought provoking read.

What is perhaps the best part of the book is the possibility of a new beginning after death.

High school readers who enjoy a little bit of fantasy will enjoy this book, and I will definitely put Kristen Tracy on my list of authors to read.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Queen of the Waves: A Review


In a twist of the classic “rich girl falls for the poor boy” tale, Jacqueline asks farm girl Tessa to take her place on the Titanic so that she can elope with the gardener, who happens to be Tessa’s brother. Desperate to escape her abusive father, Tessa agrees, and after a crash course in how to behave like a lady, she boards the ship in pursuit of a better life. When the ship sinks, both women will never be the same.

A longtime fan of Titanic stories, I was eager to read this book and was not disappointed. I found the characters to be engaging and even the side characters were well-developed.  I loved Tessa, the spunky girl who wrestled with pigs and now had to wrestle to get into fancy dresses. The character I wish had more of a storyline is Roland, the man Jacqueline is told to marry, which sparks the identify exchange. Instead of writing him as a mean man Jacqueline must escape, he is a true gentleman and deserving of his own story one day. (Hint, Hint, Jacqueline.)

Because everyone knows what happens with the ship and so many books (both fiction and nonfiction) have been written surrounding the tragedy, it’s hard for readers to find a fresh take on the event. However, Thompson does this beautifully. The well-researched event is written vividly, giving us readers a sense of eagerness, panic, grief, and finally hope that passengers must have felt.

Fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this book as well as fans of fiction surrounding the infamous Titanic.

I was given this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giveaway!


Today, I'm giving away a copy of Queen of the Waves. I just finished it yesterday and really enjoyed it. I plan to post my review this week.
To enter to win, leave me a comment telling me about how you are the queen of something. When I taught middle school language arts, I was the Grammar Queen. I LOVE grammar. Now that I've been out of the classroom a few years, I already feel like I lost some of my skills. During the week, I pull three groups of dyslexia students, and soon I hope to be the coding queen. I love it.

Leave a second comment, letting me know you follow the blog, to get a second entry. Be sure to leave your email address in one of the comments. I'll pick a winner next week. I can only ship to the US.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Giveaway!


Congrats to Dawn for winning The Widow of Saunders Creek.
This week, I'm giving away Borders of the Heart, which I thought was fantastic.
To enter to win, leave a comment about a trip you've taken where you crossed the border of a state or country.
Leave a second comment if you follow the blog to get a second entry.

I can only ship to the US. I'll pick a winner next week.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Borders of the Heart: A Review


Fleeing Nashville and his songwriting career behind, J.D. Jessup just wants to escape the haunting memories of his beloved wife. Moving to Tucson to work on a farm seems to be the answer until he comes upon Maria, who lies in the desert beaten and alone. Unable to save his wife, J.D. is compelled to save Maria from those who want her dead. Will he find his own salvation while trying to rescue Maria?

Living in a southern state, I often hear about the illegal immigration issue, the drug trafficking from Mexican drug lords, and the plight of those coming to America in search for a better life. I see both sides of the issues and am always curious how authors will handle the controversial topic. Fabry does an excellent job balancing the two sides by creating characters readers will love or love to hate. My favorite character is the pastor who marches past the drug cartels to deliver food, clothes, and hope.

The plot is action packed from the first chapter and continues a fast and furious ride until the last chapter. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that sustains a high intensity throughout 300 plus pages that seem to be a collection of events that could be in today’s newspapers. The authenticity of the plot made it more impactful and a bit of a wake-up call to what’s going on in the world.

Borders of the Heart was the first book I’ve read by Chris Fabry, but I will definitely check out his other roller coaster tales.

 

I was given this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Check out the trailer for the book:
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giveaway!



Congrats to Amada for winning The Bride Wore Blue.
Today I am giving away The Widow of Saunders Creek, which I thought was excellent.
To enter to win, leave a comment about something. I can't think of a topic. My brain is tired. :)

I can only ship to the US. I'll pick a winner next Tuesday.

 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Prize of My Heart: A Review


While he was at sea three years ago, Captain Brogan Talvis' late wife gave away his son to another family to raise as their own. For three years, Brogan has plotted to get his son Benjamin back by any means necessary. When he finally finds his son, he's surprised by his attraction to Lorena, the woman Benjamin (now called Drew) knows as his sister and primary caregiver. In his efforts to win back his son, will he lose his chance at love?

I can sum up this book in one phrase: great plot idea but poor execution. The plot was intriguing with both characters hiding secrets, some action, and a final twist, but the telling instead of showing writing  kept the story, particularly the characters, from fulling developing. The characters dealt with major issues that today would require some therapy, but they were easily resolved in two paragraphs at the end. Lorena, who is the leading lady, is more of a prop and kinda just there. Because I'm a character-driven reader, this frustrated me.

What saves the book is the solid plot and the theme of strength of a family bond. I was surprised by the final twist that balanced out the predictable romantic ending between underdeveloped characters.

Some fans of Christian fiction will enjoying this fans, but I think there are better written options out there.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Trash into Bookmarks

I got this idea from a fellow librarian, Anna at Atascocita Springs Elementary in Humble, TX. It has been awesome at our school in just two weeks.
First, take old boxes of household items.
 


Turn them into bookmarks!
 
 
It's great for several reasons. First, it reinforces recycling. Sure, we do a great job of putting our paper in the recycle bin, but what about taking recycled materials and making something new you can still use. Second, the kids love picking out a bookmark. Third, it saves the library/school money and paper to buy or to make bookmarks.
 
The only negative is that I have about 100 boxes in my library workroom waiting to be cut.
 

The Bride Wore Blue: A Review

Trying to forget the sins of her past, Vivian moves to Cripple Creek to join her three sisters. Determined to succeed as a fashion designer, Vivian will take any job to make her way...even a job that will hurt her reputation beyond repair. Will the past pull her back in, or will Vivian finally find relief from her guilt?

Vivian may be my favorite sister. I liked her determination and the storyline of her guilt over her past. When Vivian witnesses a crime that the local law enforcement is desperate to solve, she becomes involved in character descriptions, witness statements, and even a kidnapping. What she hadn't expected was the sparks she felt for Carter, the Sheriff who is afraid of having a family with his dangerous career. Their relationship is predictable but enjoyable.

The best part of the book was the question of how far will people go to survive. Many people say they won't do certain things, but when you have tried every other option, what will you do? Will you compromise your values to eat and to have a place to live? Although this was a minor part of the story, it is the part that left me wondering about the situations people have endured to lead them to the bad choices they make.

Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this book. I recommend reading the series in order, but this book can be read as a stand alone.

I received this book in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Giveaway!

Congrats to Susan for winning The Stars Shine Bright. This week, I'm giving away The Bride Wore Blue.
To enter to win, leave a comment with your favorite color to wear.
To get a second entry, follow the blog. (Leave a second comment that you follow.)
Be sure to leave an email address.
I'll pick a winner next week.
I can only ship to the US.
Happy Reading!
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Brides Too Many: A Review


When their father is sent to Paris for work, Nell and Kat are forced to become mail-order brides and move to Cripple Creek, Colorado.  What awaits them at the train station is not what they expect when neither groom meets the young women. Unsure what to do until a fire threatens the town as soon as they arrive, they quickly become a part of the frontier community. Will that be enough to survive on their own?

I read the second book in this series first, but I still enjoyed Nell and Kat’s stories. I liked that their stories were told together since their personalities balanced each other. Nell was eager to marry and convinced herself she was in love after exchanging letters with her mail-order groom while Kat is relieved when her groom-to-be doesn’t show as he turns out to be a gambling womanizer.  I liked their independence and determination despite the hard circumstances.

Although the romance aspect of the book is clear from the beginning, the best part of the book was young women figuring out their way. The way Kat storms into the brothel/bar to confront the man who promised to marry her is a great scene.  Also good is the setting. The author creates a fantastic little town in this book, and readers will hope she’ll continue writing about the quirky characters who make it unique.

The Rose of Winslow Street: A Review


Romanian widower Michael Dobrescu flees his home country to Colden, Massachusetts to claim his family's home, the home Libby Sawyer and her father have occupied for decades. Taking the battle to court, Libby finds herself drawn to the mysterious family who has overcome so much. Will she remain loyal to her family or will her heart be stolen just as her childhood home?

I became a fan of Elizabeth Camden after reading her debut novel, and her second book doesn't disappoint. I loved the characters. Libby's struggle to read and her strength to deal with her verbally abusive dad endear her to the reader. Likewise, Camden does a great job slowly revealing the Dobrescu family's past and making them one of the best families I've read in a long time.

I enjoy courtroom thrillers, and I found the legal battle interesting and reflective of the time period.
I also enjoyed the perfume aspect of the book. Both of these plots made the book a fast and enjoyable read.

Fans of Elizabeth Camden will enjoy her second novel.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Earn books from Tyndale!




Tonight I signed up to earn books from Tyndale. I've done book reviews for them for a while, and I was excited to see what the rewards program is all about. 
I found it easy to use and the points add up quickly.
Check it out for yourself!
http://tyndalerewards.com/

Giveaway!


Congrats to Liz for winning Nothing to Hide. This week I am giving away The Stars Shine Bright.
To enter to win, leave a comment about a place where you saw the stars or nature in a beautiful way. Living in the suburbs of Houston, I can see the stars somewhat but not enough. There are a few streets where I live that have just the most beautiful trees lining each side of the street. They give me peace, and sometimes I drive those streets just to relax.

I can only ship to the US, and I'll choose a winner next week.

(Stay tuned to my next blog entry about earning free books from Tyndale.)